My first review
Belle | New Orleans, LA USA | 03/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the best thing out there on New Orleans. If you have any interest in New Orleans - why we cook like we do, dance like we do, play music like we do - this gives it to you. This is from the PBS series "American Experience" and PBS did it well. This is not a "Katrina" piece. Although Katrina factors in at the end, it is not the focus. Here the story starts with the folks that founded the City and moves through to Katrina. Along the way, it pulls no punches and includes the lowlights with the highlights. Even if you know New Orleans, there is plenty here that you will enjoy. I'm getting extras for gifts."
Also my first review
M. Wen | nola | 04/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hands down, the BEST documentary out there about New Orleans. For the first time ever, a documentary that's been produced by someone not from New Orleans that actually "gets" our city. It really has the voice of the people and demonstrates to the rest of the world why New Orleans is so unique and why it's so important for us to preserve this great American city. It even talks about tourists that come to New Orleans and only experience the 5 blocks of Bourbon Street then leave, never seeing the true beauty of this place. It explores the full history of the city, from its birth to the current situation and why the city was the way it was when Katrina struck. It also talks about different facets of the culture that makes it so distinct. Did I mention that it's the BEST New Orleans documentary out there? What are you waiting for? Buy it already!"
Kevin Hunter | Los Angeles, CA | 04/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was looking for a poignant documentary on the history of New Orleans, something that would saturate itself in the culture melting pot where there is no other like it. I found it with this DVD here. Amazing. Captured everything I was looking for and more."
Take That, Dennis Hastert!
John T. Hyatt | New Orleans, LA | 06/15/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I understand this documentary was spurred by the inappropriate comment of House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert, who suggested shortly after Katrina had inundated the city, perhaps the United States should not spend any money rebuilding New Orleans. This documentary is at the same time a living portrait of the city, but also describing its many problems, products of its historical evolution. The discussion of the Board Liquidation was fascinating. Unelected officials (appointing their own successors on their deaths,) controlled the economic destiny of the city deciding which projects would be bonded. During the Flood of 1927 when many New York investment entities expressed concern about New Orleans being devastated by a rising river, the Board of Liquidation decided on a public demonstration to quell fears (even though the Mississippi River would breach its banks long before it reached New Orleans.) The levee was to be dynamited South of New Orleans at Poydras, flooding St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. With the world press on the scene the first dynamite blast did not dislodge the levee. It took numerous blasts over the next few days before a breach could be effected. The 12,000 evacuated inhabitants were promised compensation, but were "stiffed," officials even deducting the costs of temporary food and shelter from the final paltry settlements (now I understand what seemed like a perpetual distrust of New Orleans from our neighbors down South.) We even see that with the expanded Port of New Orleans authority into Plaquemines Parish currently under consideration by the state legislature in this year's session, vociferously objected to by Plaquemines Parish politicos. Also, there is still that Canary Island "Isleno" attitude. The 19th century Canary Island migration to Plaquemines Parish brought with it an attitude that someone was always out to "get us." The Canary Islands went through many economic upheavals. They were principal exporters of wines in the 17th and 18th centuries until some blight destroyed their vines. Then they went into dye production in the 19th century with certain insects endemic to the island, maintaining a monopoly until those "damned" Germans invented artificial dyes. After that many Canary Islanders subsisted on remittances from family members who had out migrated to among other places, Plaquemines Parish.
I only had one quibble with this documentary. In describing the development of the port as an entrepôt in the early 19th century, the narrator (Jeffrey Wright,) explained that at this time the port received shipments of bananas and coffee from Latin America. The first commercial shipment of bananas did not arrive in the United States until shortly after the Civil War (and then at one of the northern ports.) Another anachronism was the description of grain shipments and manufactured goods coming down the Mississippi to New Orleans at the same time. Otherwise, a fine production with some interesting "talking" heads.